Help IDing Piece before I try to fix/clean

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Cross-country move, and now some physical issues. I’m doing some little things for past customers though.
This wonderful older lady brought me this piece (picture below) to clean up a bit, and possibly repair one side that was fixed long time ago with what looks like thick plastic tape…
However, before I even touch this piece, other than to look at it, I need to know more information, and she knows nothing! All she says is that she got it from her family when an older relative passed.

A cursory google search revealed that it may date between 1887 and World War II, when a British trade act required jewelry to be marked “Made in Germany” when it was made in West Germany for export. That’s all I could find. There are no hallmarks.

It doesn’t really look brass, nor does it smell like brass, and it’s definitely World War II, or earlier, based on the marking “made in Germany“ along the inside of the toggle. One of her friends insists it’s a watch fob/vest closure and that it’s copper (ummm, def not copper!) Usually there’s a T-bar on one end and the chain would be longer. My customer says that it is a choker though.

The ornate centerpiece appears to be cast.
The cabochons and pearls may be set in gold, they are soft and easy to move and a brighter yellow. It also looks like the central cab one has been glued in carelessly with Elmers.
The solder areas are relatively smooth and clean, there is one area on the back of the piece that looks as if it was resoldered in the past 20 or so years. A slight bit of silvertone is showing through.

My questions for you wise and wonderful people are:
has anyone ever seen anything like this?
Any ideas of the origin? Time period?
Any idea what this metal may be?

She doesn’t want to involve a pawn shop or a retail jeweler because she’s afraid she is going to be ripped off or they will steal the stones out of a piece.

The Foxtail chains (is that the correct term for these? They are four sided.) feel AND smell like a rope chain my mother gave me that’s definitely from Italy in late 1800s. - I have brought my chain to numerous jewelers over the years and no one has ever been able to tell me the metal content, other than that it is not brass, not gold.


Any, ideas, suspicions and/or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!


West Germany did not exist until after World War II.
So that part should not mean much.
After World War II it was DDR or BRD, but I believe all German products after that was also marked
Made in Germany.
The piece itself looks quite interesting but beyond my knowledge.

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As you stated with your mother’s piece of jewelry, sometimes you’ll never know the exact history of an object or what it’s made of.

Then you have to make decisions based on what you do know. In this case, you know that the piece is extremely important to the owner, it’s old/historical, the owner doesn’t trust professional jewelry stores, it’s had dubious repair methods in the past and it’s probably not made of precious metals (but again, that’s just looking at a picture, not by actually testing it). From the picture (which doesn’t necessarily mean too much, the stones look genuine, but that’s definitely not certain.

Personally, I wouldn’t do very much with this piece except the most minimal of repairs. Maybe replace a jump ring or a clasp. No torches/soldering at all. It’s too delicate on multiple levels.

It’s also too fragile to be polished with a buffing wheel of any kind. You could softly rub it with a polish cloth, but chances are good that something will break even doing that. You’ll never remove all of the tarnish.

My opinion is that it’s a historical object, with unknown origins. It shouldn’t be cleaned up and worn like a contemporary piece of jewelry. It’s extremely beautiful as it is.

If the owner wants to know more about the piece, the owner should take it reputable jewelry appraiser.

Sorry! I know that’s not the answer that you’re looking for, but as a jewelry piece coming in for repair and clean up, it has a lot of red flags.

Let us know what you decide to do.




I think what ever it was it’s a choker now. I think it is built up of a few pieces. The clasp may be the right age and type but I think it came from a chatelaine or a watch fob. The jump ring is wrong. But then if it is a marriage of a few pieces to create a choker then it doesn’t matter if the clasp is wrong or not. It’s correct now. As far as cleaning is concerned be gentle with a good cloth and take what you get. I agree that it is pretty nice as it is. Beauty doesn’t necessarily come with a shine.


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Hello Lori
If you have an ionic cleaner, try dipping just the end of one tassle chain. If that cleans the metal, YAY. Gradually go on to other areas.

I love my ionic cleaner. It doesn’t harm pearls, turquoise, coral, or any other stone I’ve put in the solution. I’ve used it to clean squash blossom necklaces and other Native American silver work. As you would expect, it does remove intentional
patina. The surface polish is dimmed a bit and rubbing with a polishing cloth is a really necessary follow-up - I like Goddard’s and Stuller’s “Klean Karets” cloths.

As Jo has stated, removing tarnish also removes a bit of the surface. That’s the downside of cleaning tarnish from metal.

Let us know what worked if you pursue cleaning this mystery piece.
Judy in Kansas, who nearly froze her bits off at the KSU baseball game! Wimped out and left early.